Recipients receive a formal education that meets their personal and cultural development goals.
Community Based Decision Making
The leaders of the village, communal farm, or tribal entity work with Native Future to determine the criteria and manner of disbursement for the scholarship.
Scholarship recipients are held accountable for their efforts through their own or their families’ work for the greater community good. On-going support is dependent on annual reports including the use of funds and information about student recipients.
Programs supporting student education:
El Jacinto Granja
Catholic Mission Boarding School
The Foundation for the Development of the Wounaan People
APAUDES Regional Farm Group
Artisan Cooperative Irene Vasquez
Scroll over dates to see scholarship statistics.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Granja El Jacinto
Misión Santa Teresita, Student Board
Cooperativa Irene Vasquez:
Wounaan Higher Education Program
The Basilio Perez Scholarship Fund
The Basilio Perez Scholarship Fund has been dedicated to giving families basic help with the cost of educating their children in the Nurun area of the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, Veraguas, Panama. Basilio Perez, community leader, and Sara Archbald, agroforestry Peace Corps Volunteer initiated the fund in 2002. They worked with thirteen families in a cooperative farm in the Buglé village of El Jacinto. Basilio, in his early 40s, died of aplastic anemia in 2003, most likely the result of spraying deadly herbicides during his youth in corporate sugar cane fields without protection.
Originally, the program purchased uniforms, shoes, and supplies for elementary students whose families were working cooperatively to grow rice, corn, yucca, laying hens, fish. High school students, who must live away from their rural families to study, received small grants to help with expenses. In 2000, not one person in El Jacinto had graduated from high school. In 2017, families expected that all their children get that diploma, and several have attended college.
The program has expanded from the cooperative farm (still going strong with ten families involved) to include three other Buglé organizations. After aligning with Native Future in 2006, the Basilio Perez Scholarship fund expanded its fundraising to include the Wounaan Higher Education Fund.
The Panamanian ONG, El Patronato de Nutricion, has always supported the farm with visiting agriculture engineers, trainings, and donations of animals or low cost seeds. Without the partnership of El Patronato AND the scholarship program, this co-op farm would not exist today.
Women, the backbone of Granja El Jacinto
Recently the Patronato engineer ushered the group through a re-structuring process: new officers, several resignations, joining of new families. There are now 14 students from 10 enrolled families studying in Sr High and University in four different towns/cities. Uncounted numbers receive uniforms and shoes for elementary school.
Granja El Jacinto
Misión Santa Teresita, Student Boarding Facility, Buenos Aires
Padre Niscasio Miranda Cortez, the first Buglé priest, has been the leader of this strong Catholic mission church since the late 90s. He is socially and culturally proactive on behalf of his people. A humble man, he serves a huge area of the comarca. He oversees the boarding facility in Buenos Aires which has housed as many as 45 high school students who must walk 4-8 hours to attend school there.That number is down to 20 as of September of this year, students NF supports with food and essentials.
Mision Santa Teresita boarding school: Padre Niscasio on right, with perspective student and his family. Family involvement is the most critical success factor!
Major reason for the decline: better HS’s have been opening in other regional centers with electricity, computers. Buenos Aires HS only offers two courses of study: agriculture (boys) and home economics (girls). Even isolated families now know there are better options! Padre Niscasio is also currently using these funds to help support 3 university students, all of whom were internados in his facility.
Irene Vasquez, the first indigenous and first woman mayor of Buenos Aires, started this craft cooperative over 15 years ago. The women make hats, chakras (woven bags), jewelry, naguas, (traditional dresses) for sale at craft fairs throughout the country.
Women's Artisan Cooperative, Buenos Aires
All the members have children and/or grandchildren studying at various levels. With an emphasis on higher education, more students travel to high schools and universities, a challenging, expensive venture. Among the 50 women cooperative members, 29 qualified to receive a 2019 scholarship for family members.
Cooperativa Irene Vasquez: Women’s Artisan Co-op, Buenos Aires
APAUDeS (Asociación Para Agricultores Unidos en el Desarrollo Sostenible)
This organization is a regional farmer’s group, similar to farmers’ granges in the USA, teaching farming techniques by working together at members’ farms, providing support to each other.
Pedro Luiz with a sign advertising their farmers group
They sell produce at regional markets. Two outstanding leaders, Rey Vasquez and Pedro Ruiz, began the program in 2001 with the help of James Potts, PCV. Native Future’s support along with another foreign nonprofit, have helped it to continue. There are six students, offspring of active APAUDeS participants in this scholarship program, five of whom are in the university. The sixth is in High School.
Leonides Quiroz was this program’s first successful Wounaan scholarship student: he received his law degree with financial assistance from Native Future. Since 2005 and working through the Wounaan-run Foundation, the FUNDEPW, many students have benefited from grants to help them through high school and a few into college.
Wounaan Higher Education: Wounaan mother proudly celebrating her scholarship son with Sara Archbald (having gifted Sara with a handmade beaded necklace).
FUNDEPW is the project administration arm of the Wounaan National Congress (CNPW) who manages the scholarship program. Many Wounaan students have to move to Panama city to attend university and both living and travel costs are high. Since 2015, the emphasis has shifted to supporting college-age students studying careers that will be helpful to maintaining the Wounaan culture and lands. There are currently two college students receiving Wounaan Higher Education scholarships.